President Donald Trump said Friday he will skip President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, refusing to fulfill the outgoing president’s traditional role in the peaceful transition of power and undercutting his own message just one day earlier on the need for “national healing and unity.”
Trump, who has not appeared in public since a violent mob of his supporters besieged the Capitol on Wednesday and tried to halt the transfer of power, will be the first incumbent president since Andrew Johnson not to attend his successor’s inauguration.
Biden said he was just fine with that, calling it “one of the few things we have ever agreed on.”
“It’s a good thing him not showing up,” he added, calling the president an ”embarrassment” to the nation and unworthy of the office.
Traditionally, the incoming and outgoing presidents ride to the U.S. Capitol together on Inauguration Day for the ceremony, a visible manifestation of the smooth change of leadership.
Biden will become president at noon on Jan. 20 regardless of Trump’s plans. But Trump’s absence represents one final act of defiance of the norms and traditions of Washington that he has flouted for four years.
Historian Douglas Brinkley said that while attending the inauguration “would be a wonderful olive branch to the country,” he wasn’t surprised by the decision.